Going 20-20 Like It’s 2023!

Bigger bases in 2023 allowed for more stolen bases overall this year. More players reached the 20+ stolen base mark than ever before in the Statcast era. In fact, the 51 players who reached 20+ SBs in 2023, more than doubled last year’s mark of 24. The increase in stolen base output is explainable, MLB changed a rule. The flux of home runs in the past few years, however, is not as explainable, though many have tried to explain it with an analysis of the make-up of the actual baseball. But, both of those statistics are up individually and in combination.

20+HRs, 20+SBs, and Combined

If the red line in the plot above were more stable, you could infer that the reason there were so many 20-20 players this season is simply because there were more 20+ stolen base players this season. But the trend lines are going up in unison, which makes it a really exciting time to be alive!

20-20 Player Counts (2010-2023)

Let’s break this down into groups of 20-20, 30-30, and 40-40 to see how stolen base and home run combinations have changed over the last handful of seasons:

HR/SB combinations

I’d like to give thanks to Ronald Acuña Jr. for providing the sole yellow bar in this visualization. While the red bar indicating 30-30 players in 2023 is up well above where it has been since 2011, the blue 20-20 bar is towering over its past. All of these players that are encompassed in the 20-20 blue bars were extremely valuable in fantasy terms in 2023. Here’s a comparison between the average roto-dollar value (auction calculator, default settings) of players with at least $1 earned in 2023 in various groups:

2023 Value Comparisons
20-20 Players 10+SB/10+HR All $1+ Players <10SB/<10HR
Roto-Value $30.31 $19.42 $15.88 $12.08
Among players who earned at least $1
FanGraphs Auction Calculator (Default Settings)

That doesn’t surprise you, does it? Players with more home runs and more stolen bases than all other players are more valuable. But let’s take a look at those players and where they were drafted in 2023:

20-20 Players and Their YTD Value
Name HR SB ADP Dollars
Ronald Acuña Jr. 41 73 1.8 $86.28
Corbin Carroll 25 54 53.6 $41.03
Bobby Witt Jr. 30 49 9.6 $41.28
Julio Rodríguez 32 37 4.2 $41.58
Josh Lowe 20 32 400.1 $21.58
Francisco Lindor 31 31 33.7 $34.35
Trea Turner 26 30 2.5 $25.80
Kyle Tucker 29 30 6.2 $40.41
Fernando Tatis Jr. 25 29 17.6 $21.00
José Ramírez 24 28 3.7 $21.83
Anthony Volpe 21 24 999.0 -$5.05
Freddie Freeman 29 23 14.6 $55.38
Randy Arozarena 23 22 35.6 $19.42
George Springer 21 20 78.1 $12.83
Cody Bellinger 26 20 186.3 $34.09
Lane Thomas 28 20 289.8 $26.60
Shohei Ohtani 44 20 8.3 $42.08
Nolan Jones 20 20 509.2 $8.44
Luis Robert Jr. 38 20 47.2 $26.95
FanGraphs Auction Calculator (Default Settings)
ADP provided by NFBC

This tells us, first, that going 20-20 isn’t everything. Anthony Volpe turned in negative value in 2023 and he went 20-20! That’s crazy, right? Well, he also hit .209 and that drained his value. Yes, he recorded 62 RBI and 60 runs, but that’s barely top-20 behavior. Second, a number of these players were not expected to perform this way. Just look at Nolan Jones, Lane Thomas, Josh Lowe, and Cody Bellinger. They mostly outperformed their projections in these two categories. Going 20-20 was difficult to project in 2023.

We won’t have a good sense of who to expect 20-20 from next season until projection systems start to post, but we can expect stolen base totals to remain high and for projection systems to begin adjusting to the bigger bases a little better. Yes, the bigger bases allowed this to happen, but 20-20 seasons were once very, very special, and now, well, they still are. (Ed. note: The pitch clock likely added to this SB influx, too.) There are just more players reaching that accolade than before. However, it’s likely that a large influx of young talent in 2023 helped as well. For example, here are players who went at least 10-10, who could be in line for increases next season:

Young 10-10 in 2023
Name Age HR SB
Gunnar Henderson 22 28 10
James Outman 26 23 16
Spencer Steer 25 23 15
Matt McLain 23 16 14
Ezequiel Tovar 21 15 11
Zack Gelof 23 14 14
Elly De La Cruz 21 13 35
Joey Wiemer 24 13 11
Brenton Doyle 25 10 22

Power and speed go together like peas and carrots and give fantasy managers peas of mind. Now that stolen bases are up, they aren’t as much of a hot commodity, but you also need more to keep up with the league. Capitalizing on stolen bases and offensive production is the new fad and you don’t want to miss out. This offseason, target speed and power, target the 20-20 players.

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5 months ago

Volpe had an interesting year. They had a 20/20 year (21/24) and they played a reasonably good shortstop… but they batted .200 with a sub-.300 OBP. They probably will see their BABIP climb at least a bit next year, but they definitely need to fix their contact problem or they will continue to struggle.

5 months ago
Reply to  offthewall

Who is “they”

5 months ago
Reply to  airforce21one

Ignore – it’s a “wacky internet character”
Remember them from when chat forums were a thing?